Many WRTI listeners tell us that their fathers introduced them to the joys of music. My own dad, a terrific amateur tenor, did the same for me. He played opera full blast on our home stereo speakers at 6 am to wake us kids, and listened to me practice the piano when I was little.
My first musical performance was accompanying Dad at church when he sang “The Old Rugged Cross.”
Famous composers were dads as well: Mozart, Schumann, Liszt, Dvorak, Johann Strauss I, Gustav Mahler, Gabriel Fauré, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, to name a few. Perhaps the most prolific genius composer father was J.S. Bach, who had 20 children (with 2 different wives.) J.S. took a keen interest in the education and accomplishments of both his sons and daughters; two of his sons achieved lasting stature in the field of music.
One of the most touching musical tributes from a composer to his child can be heard in Claude Debussy’s Children’s Corner, a piano suite which he dedicated to his only child Claude-Emma, nicknamed Chouchou. (His dedication says: “A ma chère petite Chouchou, avec les tendres excuses de son Père pour ce qui va suivre: To my dear little Chouchou with fond apologies from her father for what follows.”)
The six movements of Children’s Corner depict Chouchou’s world in a perceptive, nuanced way: her piano practicing in Dr. Gradus ad Pranasuum, her toy elephant in Jimbo’s Lullaby, her dolls and picture books in The Little Shepherd, Golliwog's Cakewalk, and so on. The suite is a small masterpiece, a set of perfect musical short stories or poems.
Whether you are a dad or simply have, or had, a dad, and whether your musical output is a great composition or some heartfelt whistling, we hope you’ll tune in this Saturday for Debussy’s Children’s Corner, and for other works by musical fathers, on this Father’s Day weekend.
We're taking short requests for Saturday's 10 o'clock hour -- write to me with your request at email@example.com by the end of Thursday, June 14.
Do you have a musical memory of your dad? Leave a comment, or write to debra@WRTI.org